Edward Liu's dominating series en route to a runaway victory in the casino championship race highlighted the 12-day series
December 14, 2017 (Los Angeles, CA) - Winning a Casino Championship title on the World Series of Poker Circuit is tough. It should be. Getting a free seat into the Global Casino Championship shouldn’t come easy. Edward Liu made it look easy after putting on a clinic on the felt during the WSOP Circuit stop at the Bicycle Hotel and Casino.
Liu put on a show in Los Angeles and ran away with the title and won by 50 points. He racked up 130 points by cashing four times, all of which were final tables, won his third ring and won $70,595 over the course of 12 days.
“It’s been a long-time goal of mine,” said Liu after he officially won the title.
Coming into the final day of the series, Liu already had a big lead and was still alive in the final 14 of the main event. As soon as he made the final table and secured a ninth-place finish, he left the rest of the field drawing dead for the title.
Liu ended up finishing fifth in the main event and added $53,740 to his series total, but it was poker pro Jared Jaffee who won the main event for $211,220 and got the other guaranteed seat into the Global Casino Championship from this stop.
The 36-year-old from New York that now resides in Las Vegas defeated the 687-entry field and earned the six-figure prize money and the guaranteed seat. He was seemingly short on chips the entire tournament until they reached the final table. From there on, he made a few hands in key spots, and dominated the final table.
It was a much-needed win for Jaffee, who by his own admission, was having one of the worst years of his professional career. He ended year strong, however, with his first Circuit ring to go with his bracelet from the $1,500 no-limit hold’em mixed max event at the 2014 WSOP. It was his second tournament win in the last few weeks and he credits the strong finish to the year with his lucky card protector that was given to him by four-time ring winner Sam Panzica.
This was Jaffee’s first ring, but there were a couple players who added another ring to their collection. The aforementioned Liu won his third ring in the $365 no-limit hold’em turbo, while Ryan Van Sanford and Harry Arutyunyan each won their second.
Van Sanford won the $365 no-limit hold’em, defeating 162 entries and winning $13,135. At just 24-year-old, he’s already got two rings to his name. His first came when he was 18 years old and won another $365 no-limit hold’em event at Choctaw Casino and Resort.
Arutyunyan won the $580 no-limit hold’em turbo event on the final day of the series. He went heads-up with one of his good friends in poker, Sohale Khalili. The two have different poker backgrounds with Khalili playing professionally and getting his start online and Arutyunyan getting his start playing live while already running a successful business.
They were both shooting for their second ring, but in the end, Arutyunyan came out on top and won $11,250. It’s his second ring of his career and this season. He won his first last August when he won the Harrah’s Cherokee main event and guaranteed his seat in the GCC.
In the $3,250 no-limit hold’em high roller event, another pair of friends battled heads-up. Andrew Wisdom defeated Brandon Zuidema in a battle of up-and-coming young poker pros based in Southern California. Wisdom was victorious and took down the $72,420 first place money.
Wisdom, nicknamed “Wiz” by Chris Grigorian for his wizard-like poker skills, cashed twice throughout the series, both of which were final tables and they were his first two recorded cashes in any WSOP field. Prior to his win, he finished fourth in the $1,125 no-limit hold’em.
Outside of those four players, eight players earned their first career Circuit rings. After winning $90,000 at the WSOP this past summer, mixed games specialist David Brookshire won his first ring in the only non-hold’em event of the series. He defeated 92 entries to win $8,285 in the $365 Omaha Hi-Lo event.
Lang Lee, a semi-professional player, won his first ring in the $580 no-limit hold’em event. He runs a family business in Los Angeles, but broke into poker while he was spending time in Macau and played in some of the smaller cash games that ran across the Pacific.
Another local grinder, Hermilo Vargas, won the biggest prelim of the series. He bested a massive 1,150-entry field to win the $365 no-limit hold’em monster stack re-entry event for $71,195. Vargas is a former taxi cab driver that turned to poker full time. He plays almost exclusively in Los Angeles and has amazing results at the bike Circuit events.
William Collins, Samuel Lee and Calvin Roberts were the only three true amateurs to win rings. Collins won the first event of the series, a $365 no-limit hold’em bounty event, Lee won a $365 no-limit hold’em and Roberts won the last $365 no-limit hold’em of the series.
Collins is a general contractor, Lee is a program manager and Roberts is the CFO of a small farming company.
Xiao Ruan won the $1,125 no-limit hold’em event for $28,195. Ruan is a cash game specialist that sticks mostly to cash games in order to spend time with his family. The only reason he played the event was because there was no $5/$10 no-limit hold’em running the cash game area. Otherwise, he only planned on playing the main event.
The WSOP Circuit wraps up the 2017 calendar year with its first of two stops in Los Angeles. There will be a brief hiatus during the holiday season and the next stop gets underway on January 3 at Choctaw Casino and Resort.
About the Winners
Event 1 - William Collins
Collins defeated 125 entries to secure $7,000 in his win in the first event of the series - the $365 no-limit hold'em bounty event. Collins is a general contractor from Toluca Lake, CA and a regular at the Bicycle Casino. He came from behind on the tournament's final day to defeat Robert Miller heads-up.
"I was about a five-to-one underdog," said Collins about his chip disadvantage at the start of heads-up play. "But a few good hands came in, I got lucky on a couple things and it wound up great."
Event 2 - Hermilo Vargas
Vargas took down his first ring in what is likely to be the biggest field of the series. The former taxi drive won $71,195 after defeating 1,150 entries in the $365 no-limit hold'em monster stack re-entry. Vargas is a regular at the Bicycle Hotel and Casino and is can be found in most tournaments in Southern California or in the mixed cash games that run at the Bike.
The win was his fifth WSOP cash and all five came at the Bike. When he cashed, he made it count since four out of his five cashes resulted in final tables.
Event 3 - Samuel Lee
Lee is a program manager from San Francisco that has recently been putting a lot of work into his poker game. After putting in work honing his game online, he made the decision to take a little time off of work and come down to Southern California to play some poker tournaments.
It was a good decision as Lee defeated 110 entries to win his first ring and $9,900 in the $365 no-limit hold'em event. By definition, he's an amateur, but he had to go through two tough pros to get his first Circuit title. He battled through a tough four-handed table with ring winners Cory Smith and Sohale Khalili to earn a ring of his own.
Event 4 - Lang Lee
Lee is a local business owner in Southern California that takes very seriously. He won his first ring in his first WSOP cash, but he's cashed in other tournaments all over the area and spent extensive amounts of time playing poker in Macau when poker was first becoming popular in China.
Lee came back from a massive chip disadvantage on the final day with five players remaining. After coming in as the short stack, surviving and doubling up a few times, he went heads-up with William Wolf, who he defeated for the title, denying Wolf his third ring.
Event 5 - David Brookshire
Brookshire is a transplanted poker pro from Baltimore now living in California. Brookshire specializes in mixed games, both cash games and tournaments, and won the only mixed event of the series. He defeated a 92-entry field to win $8,285 in the $365 Omaha Hi-Lo.
The 35-year-old doen't play much hold'em and doesn't think he will play any other ring events this series, since they are all no-limit hold'em. The win is coming on the back of the best summer of his career. According to Brookshire, he made $90,000 over the summer at the World Series in cash games and tournaments. He's only been playing tournaments for three years.
Event 6 - Ryan Van Sanford
The 24-year-old poker pro from Colorado Springs became the latest multiple ring winner after his win in the $365 no-limit hold'em. Van Sanford defeated a 162 entry field to win $13,135 and his second ring.
Part of the reason Van Sanford decided to make the trek to Southern California was because his father was in town on a business trip. Jeff, the elder Van Sanford, was on the rail for the entire final table, which spanned two days. According to Ryan, his father is his biggest supporter and will be there to support his son at any tournament he can find time to make.
Event 7 - Edward Liu
Liu is a semi-professional poker player and works part time in the finance industry. The 43-year-old Los Angeles native won his third ring in the $365 no-limit hold'em turbo event after defeating 150 entries to win $12,585.
Liu spends most of his time playing cash games, but dabbles in tournaments when they come to the Bicycle Hotel and Casino. When he plays tournaments, he does well. This was his eighth Circuit cash, all of which came at the Bike, and it was his fifth career final table.
"I don't know what I'd do if I ever finished second," joked Liu after his win. "It's never happened before. I don't know how it feels."
Event 8 - Xiao Ruan
Ruan immigrated from China to the United States four years ago and discovered poker on a vacation in Las Vegas. After discovering the game, he was hooked and eventually realized he could make more money playing poker than he could at his full-time job as an investment manager.
Ruan specializes in cash games because it gives him the flexibility he wants to spend time with his family. He limits himself to just one tournament a month, but broke the rule when he couldn't find a $5/$10 cash game running. When there wasn't a cash game that fit his liking, he registered for the $1,125 no-limit hold'em event. He defeated 94 entries and won not only his first ring, but his first live tournament for $28,195.
Event 9 - Calvin Roberts
Roberts is a CFO for a small farming company in California. He won his first ring in his second-ever World Series of Poker cash on Saturday afternoon in the $365 no-limit hold'em. The 53-year-old defeated 226 entries to earn $16,970 along with the WSOP jewelry.
Roberts is a recreational player that enjoys playing the game to relax and unwind, but he has a bigger poker goal. He earned his first-ever cash this past summer at the Rio in the Seniors event, which gave him the confidence to shoot for bigger things - a bracelet. According to Roberts, this is just the first step. It was a goal of his to win one, but the ultimate dream is a victory in the Rio.
Event 10 - Jared Jaffee
Jaffee defeated 687 entries to finish his year strong with a main event win, $211,220, his first ring and a seat into the 2018 Global Casino Championship. The 36-year-old poker pro from New York that now lives in Vegas already has a bracelet to his name after winning the $1,500 no-limit hold'em mixed max event. He added a ring to his trophy case on the last day of the series.
Jaffee credits his win thanks to a lucky card protector given to him by four-time ring winner Sam Panzica. On Panzica's trip to Asia, he brought back a small Buddha statue that Jaffee used as a card protector. Since using the card protector for the last few weeks, he's won two different tournaments and a Circuit ring.
Event 11 - Andrew Wisdom
Wisdom edged out Ryan Van Sanford for the youngest ring winner of the series. At 23-years-old, Wisdom won his first ring in the $3,250 no-limit hold'em high roller. The poker pro from San Diego is part of a group of young poker players who are looking to make their mark on the poker world.
He defeated one of his friends, Brandon Zuidema, heads-up. Van Sanford, who won the $365 no-limit hold'em was eliminated in third in this event. Wisdom got his start playing heads-up with his older brother and when he turned 18, he started playing small stakes tournaments in Indian Casinos to build a bankroll.
Event 12 - Harrry Arutyunyan
Arutyunyan won his second career ring in the $580 no-limit hold'em turbo event. The Glendale native and entrepreneur has been putting on a clinic this year. He already has a seat into the 2018 Global Casino Championship thanks to his main event win last August in Cherokee and now added another ring and $11,250 in the last event of the series.
Heading into Tuesday, Arutyunyan didn't have any plans of playing the event because he didn't know it was running. After getting a text from Sean Yu, he decided to drive down to the Bike and register late at the first break.
For the full schedule of events at the Bike or for more information on the WSOP Circuit, use the links below: